In the last two decades, the city has faced and overcome the loss of an employer that once provided 20,000 engineering and manufacturing jobs, and turned that loss into a state-of-the-art, 18,000 square foot science learning center with a national memorial to the crew of the doomed Space Shuttle Columbia flight in 2003.
Through interactive educational programs and exhibits, and unique historical resources, the center provides experiences which inspire people of all ages to enhance their understanding of space related sciences, to recognize the value of technologies developed through the space program, and to engage in the exploration of Planet Earth and the universe beyond.
The center targets and encourages students, especially those from underrepresented groups, to discover science, technology, engineering, and math in exciting and innovative ways.
During the recent recession, Birmingham began to explore innovative ways of improving economic conditions and the quality of life through public/private partnerships.
A land-swap between the City of Birmingham and the University of Alabama Birmingham paved the way for a $64 million project to build Regions Field for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league baseball team. A new, 19-acre Railroad Park downtown received an Open Space Award from the Urban Land Institute.
Other projects include a $400 million expansion for Children’s of Alabama, an international hospital, and a revival of the city’s historic Theater District. The Avondale neighborhood is reversing a declining trend with the help of a downtown economic development group, Avondale Brewery, residents, and federal stimulus funding.
Less than a mile away, the impoverished neighborhood of Woodlawn has seen development of a different kind—an $11 million investment from the YWCA of Central Alabama to build a six-family shelter and renovate 58 nearby apartments. YWCA has also brought a Family Resource Center and health, education, and employment services to the community……
The National Civic League has invited 20 communities to the 2013 All-America City Awards June 14-16 in Denver, Colorado.
Canton, New York
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dunn, North Carolina
Garner, North Carolina
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Thomasville, North Carolina
Miami Lakes, Florida
Folly Beach, South Carolina
Sarasota County, Florida
The Colony, Texas
This year, the program is spotlighting community-wide initiatives that honor and benefit veterans and military families. Next year, the 65th anniversary of the program, the focus will be on communities that foster healthier lifestyles for their residents.
“All-America Cities set an example and a standard of excellence for local problem-solvers throughout the country,” said NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortes. “This is an award that gives us hope, ideas and inspiration as we look for ways to address the difficult challenges we face as communities and as a nation.”
All-America City Awards recognize local action through community-based problem-solving and civic engagement efforts involving the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The designation gives the winning communities “bragging rights” than can help them recruit new businesses, increase jobs and obtain grants for community betterment projects in the future.
“AAC is more than an awards program,” noted NCL Interim Chair Liz Hollander. “It gives communities a unique opportunity to celebrate their successes, but also to take a clear-eyed look at their civic capacities.”
Once described by pollster George Gallup as a “Nobel Prize” for civic accomplishment, the awards have been given to more than 600 communities since its inception in 1949. Some have won it as many as five and six times. Not just cities, but neighborhoods, towns, counties and metropolitan regions can apply for the prestigious award.
To qualify for AAC, participants fill out applications listing three examples of successful community change. Applicants are enocuraged to use the National Civic League’s “Civic Index,” a widely used tool for assessing community strengths and weaknesses. In their applications, they describe their capacities for civic engagement, collaboration; inclusiveness and innovation.
NCL will produce a report based on the finalists’ projects to inform communities seeking to improve their current initiatives or establish new ones benefiting veterans and military families.
Sponsors and partners of the 2013 All-America City Award include: The Piton Foundation; Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation; PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc.; Southwest Airlines – The Official Airline of the All-America City Award; Greenberg Traurig; Merrick & Company; City of Aurora, Colorado; BBVA Compass; City of Dublin, California; El Pomar Foundation; FirstBank; City of Lakewood, Colorado; Alameda Gateway; RubinBrown; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Kettering Foundation is a research partner. The Colorado National Guard is a partner.
On May 4, 2013, the City of Aztec will celebrate the 50th anniversary of winning the All-America City Award. The award was given to Aztec in 1963 for building a 19-mile, two-lane highway from the town’s outskirts to newly constructed Navajo Dam, a $42 million federal project that was a major early component of the Upper Colorado River Storage Project. What follows is a description of the event and the history e-mailed to NCL by the city’s tourism and marketing supervisor, Chris Duthie. The historical photos (circa 1963) are courtesy of the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village.
“Building a 19-mile highway in little more than three months was an astonishing feat all to itself. Considering it was designed, funded and constructed almost exclusively by Aztec residents, businesses and neighbors – without government support – the deed takes on legendary status.
In fact, Navajo Dam Road/State Road 173 was built with donated equipment, material, supplies, cash and labor. School boys and girls raised road fund money by staging plays. Civic groups and local businesses organized fund raisers not unlike the war bond rallies of the 1940s. And a dedicated committee headed by Bonnie Walls served meals, snow or shine, to workers each and every day the work was in progress.
Approximately 3,000 volunteers – nearly three-fourths of Aztec’s population in 1963 – participated in this dramatic undertaking. When it was completed, President Lyndon Johnson sent a cable of congratulations, Look Magazine featured the project in its pages, the accomplishment was written up in the U.S. Congressional Record and, in lasting tribute, Aztec was designated one of only 11 communities in 1963 to receive the National Civic League’s All-America City Award.
As originally envisioned, Navajo Dam Road has served as an outdoor-recreation gateway to millions of travelers and vacationers needing quick and easy access to hundreds of natural sandstone arches; panoramic high-desert scenery; ancestral Puebloan ruins; the hiking, camping, fishing and water sports amenities of Navajo Lake State Park, which contains New Mexico’s second-largest lake; and the Quality Waters of the lower San Juan River, a U.S. Top 10 Fly Fishing Destination.
“I hope everyone appreciates the meaning behind those green ‘All-America City 1963’ signs on the city’s outskirts,” said City Manager Joshua Ray. “If not, we most definitely should. The National Civic League’s award put an indelible red circle around one of the most important events in the history of Aztec. We should all be so proud of and thankful for the monumental efforts and sacrifices made 50 years ago by this great community.”
To mark the occasion, the City of Aztec is hosting a “Spirit of ’63 50th Anniversary Celebration” at Tiger Park on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The free event is scheduled to include an old fashioned ice cream social, entertainment, celebrities, dignitaries, and fun for the entire family.
The City of Aztec employs 129 people and serves a growing community of nearly 7,000 residents. Founded in 1890, Aztec is the San Juan County seat and is located in northwest New Mexico approximately 35 miles south of Durango, CO, and 180 miles north of Albuquerque. In addition to its expansive community parks and historic district, Aztec is renowned for its ancestral Puebloan ruins (Aztec Ruins National Monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), natural sandstone arches (more than 200 in the immediate area), mountain biking (30 miles of trails), trophy trout fly fishing (top 10-rated Quality Waters of the lower San Juan River), and water recreation (Navajo Lake and Animas River).”
For 63 years, the National Civic League has celebrated the successes of community-based problem solvers through its All-America City Award program. In 2013, for the second year in a row, the awards program will have a special focus—community efforts to assist returning veterans and military families find access to jobs, housing, health care, education, and other critical services, among other issues.
“NCL has always been committed to grassroots problem solving and civic engagement at the local level,” noted NCL president Gloria Rubio Cortes. “With the special focus we are trying to leverage our flagship awards program to raise awareness of and encourage action on specific challenges and needs in communities.”
Last year AAC spotlighted the critical issue of early childhood literacy. More than 120 communities and regions joined a national network of funders, schools, libraries and local governments pledging to get more students reading proficiently by the time they finish third grade. NCL has been applauded for its role valuable in facilitating the launch of a national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
To qualify as a finalist for the All-America City Awards, each community must fill out an application listing three community improvement projects. In 2013, communities are encouraged—but not required—to list at least one project for veterans and military families.
More than 600 neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties and regions have won this award; some have won it 5 or 6 times. The year-round program energizes communities to effectively address our nation’s most important issues. It culminates in a three-day workshop-intensive competition at which ten winners are announced.
AAC gives communities a unique opportunity to map its assets and identify successes and challenges by providing NCL’s Civic Index guide and gives people a forum to transform themselves and their communities.
AAC, this year will produce, a best practices report to help communities improve their current initiatives or establish new ones benefiting veterans and military families. It will be widely distributed with educational sessions. (NEW)
You are invited to apply for a 2013 All-America City Awards ( link here to request anapplication form). Completed applications are due March 11, 2013. Finalists will be announced in April. This year’s AAC awards will rally cities, counties and regions to take proactive steps to assist returning veterans and military families with access to jobs, housing, healthcare, education and other critical services. To qualify for the award program, communities list three examples of outstanding civic accomplishments. Applicants will be encouraged (but not required) to list one example of a community effort involving veterans and military families. The awards competition and workshops will be held June 14-16, 2013 in Denver, CO. Last year’s efforts to spotlight early reading competency was instrumental in creating a nationwide network of communities to address this critical issue. For more information visit our blog or follow us on Twitter @AllAmericaCity.
NCL Board Officers: NCL’s Board and staff thank former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman for her four years of service as Board Chair. Freedman remains on the Board. Elizabeth Hollander, a senior fellow at the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service (Tufts University), has been elected interim Board Chair. Other elected officers are: Vice Chair, Bev Perry Executive Director of the Southwest Megaregion Alliance; Treasurer, Jack Van Sambeek of Bonita, California; Secretary, Charles Ozaki, city/county manger in Broomfield, Colorado; and Rancho Cordova California Mayor David Sander, at-large member of the executive committee. Other executive committee members are Christine Benero, President and CEO of Mile High United Way, and Hon. Sharon Metz, CEO of the Carrolton Missouri Chamber of Commerce.
The next issue of the National Civic Review (NCR) will focus on public libraries and their new roles in promoting civic engagement. Look for this special issue next week. Supported by the Urban Libraries Council, the issue features essays and articles showcasing groundbreaking library public engagement programs and the future of libraries as centers for democratic participation.
In December, NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortes and NCL CIO Mike McGrath presented case study drafts in a panel on fiscal sustainability and local governments at the University of Southern California. Supported by the Haynes Foundation, the research project is in its second of three years. The research team, which includes Mark Pisano and Shui Yan Tang of USC and Richard Callahan of the University of San Francisco, met with experts and local public managers to go over the finings of their case studies (San Bernardino County, the cities of San Bernardino, Santa Anna and South Gate and the El Rancho Unified School District). The case studies will be published in National Civic Review in 2013. To make sure you get yours sign up as an NCL member. NCR is a benefit of membership, or subscribe to NCR.
NCL gets a shout-out in the Denver Post’s one-year assessment of Mayor Michael Hancock. Hancock was praised for his quiet, but effective leadership and willingness to tackle tough challenges. The article notes Hancock’s stint at the National Civic League where he studied the “inclusive leadership style” of the late, former NCL President, John Parr ( link here to read the full article).
(From the Campaign for Grade-Level-Reading website.)
Baltimore became one of the first cities to start using chronic absence data to drive policy and practice, and it has demonstrated several innovative approaches to improving attendance. A mid-Atlantic city with high poverty rates in much of its urban core, Baltimore has a wealth of chronic absence data. Maryland is one of the few states that require schools to report how many students are chronically absent, which the state defines as missing 20 or more days a year.
Baltimore is home to Johns Hopkins University, where researchers have linked chronic absence in middle school to dropout rates and, more recently, have shown the detrimental effects of absenteeism as early as prekindergarten.
Driven by data showing that 34 percent of middle school students and 44 percent of high school students were chronically absent, the mayor’s office collaborated with Open Society Institute–Baltimore and Baltimore City Public Schools to launch a citywide attendance work group that brought together city, school and community stakeholders.
After-school programs that receive money from the city must spell out how they are responding to chronic absence. City child welfare workers review attendance data for children in foster care to identify families that may need support since chronic absenteeism, especially in the early grades, can signal that a family is struggling. This project is helping to identify more than 700 children and families each month that are in need of assistance.
The school district has launched a public education campaign, Every Day Counts, which encourages students, parents and community members to focus on good attendance. Posters and videos allow students to explain why they go to school and how they make every day count.
“Every day, I like learning big new words in school,” says Aiyanna, an elementary school student. “I go to school every day to see my teacher,” says Liam, a kindergartner. The initiative also posts attendance messages on the district website, texts parents about attendance incentive programs and creates an “every day” culture of attendance in Baltimore City.
Baltimore City Schools are tapping into the range of partnerships it has established across the city to support attendance improvement. School Every Day!, a City Schools initiative, works with volunteers from local faith-based organizations to connect families with the resources and support they need to overcome barriers to attendance.
The National Civic League named 14 communities All-America Cities yesterday (July 2). The cities, counties and regions were recognized for their ambitious plans to ensure that more children are proficient readers by the end of third grade.
The 2012 All-America Cities are:
Providence, Rhode Island
Quad Cities, Iowa and Illinois
San Antonio, Texas
San Francisco, California
Seattle and the South King County Cities, Washington
Southern Pines, North Carolina
The read more about what these communities are doing link here.
The award is given to each year to recognize outstanding examples of community problem solving, civic engagement and collaboration between the public, profit and nonprofit sectors. This year the award had a special focus: applicants were asked to develop comprehensive plans to bridge the reading gap between at-risk students and other learners. The awardees named today were among 124 communities that met in Denver this weekend to launch a network dedicated to improving early literacy and bridging the performance gap among young readers nationwide.
The conference/awards celebration emerged from a partnership between the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the National Civic League, the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors and United Way Worldwide. “This partnership has been an amazing experience for our All-America City Awards,” said Gloria Rubio-Cortes, president of the National Civic League. “We were overwhelmed by the quality, passion and thoughtfulness of all the action plans submitted by over one hundred cities, towns and regions. There is a real and deep commitment to ensuring that our children are prepared to succeed.”
The 124 communities who are already part of the campaign are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging their full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. Their plans involve schools but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad problems that keep children from learning to read. The strategies include ensuring that children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed, attend school regularly and keep learning through the summer months.
“We are leaving the Mile-High City on a high of our own, inspired by the people who are moving mountains in their communities to serve children,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “We look forward to working with all of the communities in the Network as well as more across the country to move the needle on grade-level reading.”
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity to work with the other partners to really make a difference,” said Stacey Stewart, Executive Vice President of United Way Worldwide. “Our greatest asset is the ability to mobilize both individuals and institutions around an issue that communities think are important. This effort to get more kids reading at grade level by the end of third grade has emerged as a critical priority in many communities.”
“The National League of Cities congratulates the winners of the 2012 All-America City Awards for their outstanding community plans,” said Donald J. Borut, NLC’s executive director. “These communities will be among the leaders as Americans from all walks of life rally around the goal of ensuring that every child reads proficiently by the end of third grade.”
Each of the recognized communities submitted a “Community Solutions Action Plan” that included a broad cross-section of local partners, including schools, foundations, community service organizations, businesses and faith groups detailing how they would address school readiness, attendance and summer learning. More than 30 finalist communities were selected through a peer review process from a field of more than 100 entries from across the country.
At the award celebration Monday afternoon, NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortes announced that next year’s All-America City Award will include a focus on how communities are mobilizing to address the needs of returning veterans and military families.
Friday marked the launch of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, a national movement of local leaders, nonprofits and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading. That milestone marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who haven’t mastered reading by then are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
All-America City Award sponsors include: The Piton Foundation; Southwest Airlines-Official Airline of the All-America City Awards; Scholastic; PCL Construction; Mile High United Way; Greenberg Traurig ; US Bank; El Pomar Foundation; JP Morgan Chase; City of Lakewood; City of Aurora; Comcast; FirstBank; Rose Community Foundation; Western Union; and Denver Health.
Mayors from across the country helped launched the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network yesterday, announcing a national movement of local leaders, nonprofits and foundations that is putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading.
“We realize that we cannot have great cities without great public schools,” said Kevin Johnson, Sacramento mayor and second vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Johnson has pledged to make his city the first in the nation to have all third graders reading on grade level. Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Providence Mayor Angel Taveres joined him in launching the network of 124 cities, counties and towns spread across 34 states and representing 350 school districts.
“There is nothing more important than preparing our students for the global economy,” Mayor Hancock said. “I am proud of the plans we have for improving early literacy in Denver.”
The launch of the network came as more than 500 community members, funders, nonprofit leaders and state and federal policymakers gather in Denver today to discuss solutions and strategies for closing achievement gaps and reducing dropout rates by improving third-grade reading.
The communities in the network are adopting a collective impact strategy that engages parents, schools, nonprofits, businesses and foundations around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. Their efforts recognize that schools alone cannot address the myriad challenges that thwart early literacy, including students who arrive at kindergarten without the basic skills they need to succeed, children missing excessive school days and students losing ground over the summer.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has recognized 25 cities and counties as Community Solutions PaceSetters for their work addressing the challenges that keep low-income children from mastering reading by the end of third grade. The PaceSetters will be honored at a conference June 30-July 2 in Denver that will launch a national network committed to grade-level reading. Altogether, 124 cities and regions have joined the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network, adopting a collective impact strategy that engages the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade.
These efforts involve schools but acknowledge that schools alone cannot address the myriad challenges that keep children from learning to read. In particular, the Campaign is focusing on:
School Readiness—preparing young children to begin school ready to learn
School Attendance—ensuring that children in grades K-3 regularly attend school
Summer Learning—addressing summer learning loss with engaging programs
The PaceSetter Honors recognize communities that are “leading by example” to solve one or more of these challenges that can undermine early literacy. In many cases, the PaceSetters still have much work to do. But their efforts provide other communities with promising models to replicate, as well as inspiration for working toward their own creative solutions.
“There is no single silver bullet,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Each of these PaceSetters is contributing one more piece of the puzzle.”
In addition to the PaceSetter Honors for communities, several states will be recognized at the Denver conference. Also, 10 to 15 communities will receive the All-America City Award, a National Civic League award program tied this year to the reading campaign. Those awardees will be chosen from 32 finalists at the end of the conference July 2.
The conference in Denver will provide communities the opportunity to meet with state and federal policymakers, national nonprofits, foundations and peers engaged in improving grade-level reading. The communities in the network will have access to an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs.